Saltwater Fishing under Moon Phases

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Saltwater Fishing under Moon Phases: Maximizing Your Catch

Saltwater fishing in Florida is an addicting sport that attracts anglers from all over the world. Many fishermen believe that the different phases of the moon can have a significant impact on their success rates. In this article, we will explore the connection between moon phases and saltwater fishing, and discuss strategies to maximize your catch under each moon phase.


New Moon Phase:

During the new moon phase, the moon is not visible from the Earth as it lies in a direct line between the sun and the Earth. This phase is often associated with lower tides and decreased visibility due to the absence of moonlight. However, this should not discourage saltwater anglers.

When fishing under the new moon phase, it is advisable to focus on fishing in deeper waters or areas with structure. Many fish species seek refuge in deeper waters during this phase, making it an opportune time to target bottom-dwelling species like grouper, snapper, and flounder. Utilize brighter colors with more visibility, as well as noise and action for lures or other artificial bait to attract fish in the darkened conditions.


Waxing Crescent and First Quarter Phases:

During the waxing crescent and first quarter phases, the moon slowly becomes more visible, enhancing visibility during nighttime fishing. Experiment with topwater lures or other surface presentations, as predatory fish such as striped bass, redfish, and snook are more likely to strike at prey on the water's surface.  Tides play a vital role in fishing success, and during the first quarter phase, anglers can take advantage of the rising tide. Rising tides can create feeding opportunities for various types of saltwater game fish, as they are carried into new feeding grounds.


Waxing Gibbous Phase:

The waxing gibbous phase occurs after the first quarter and before the full moon. During this phase, the moon's illumination increases, and fish tend to become more active in their feeding patterns. This phase is particularly suitable for targeting pelagic species such as tuna, mahi-mahi, and wahoo offshore, and snook, flounder, tarpon, and stripped bass. These species are known to be more active during moonlit nights and are attracted to live bait or trolling lures. Keep an eye on the tides, as the stronger currents during this phase can concentrate baitfish, attracting larger predatory fish.


Full Moon Phase:

The full moon is often associated with increased fishing activity, both during the nighttime and early morning hours. Many saltwater anglers consider the full moon phase to be the most productive time for catching a variety of game fish, while many consider it to be hit or miss.  During the full moon, larger predatory fish are more active, seeking out prey in well-lit waters. This phase offers a prime opportunity for night fishing, as the bright moonlight facilitates increased visibility. Target species such as snook, tarpon, sailfish, and snapper using live bait or lures that mimic their preferred prey.  Moon phases approaching full around 75-85% are the best times, usually 3-4 days before, as the feeding phase increases with each passing moment leading to a full moon, but slows the closer you get to full.  As you get closer to the full  moon, many of the fish have already fed heavily for days, thus a slow down in feeding occurs, leading many anglers to consider it hit or miss.  


Waning Gibbous and Last Quarter Phases:

As the moon transitions from the full moon to the last quarter, the angling conditions gradually change. The waning gibbous and last quarter phases can be challenging for saltwater fishing, as fish tend to become less active.  During these phases, it is advisable to focus on artificial baits that imitate wounded or sluggish prey. Slowly retrieved soft plastic lures or jigs can entice fish that are less inclined to chase fast-moving bait after having fed heavily for days.


Waning Crescent Phase:

The waning crescent phase precedes the new moon, and the moon's illumination diminishes. Anglers may find that fish become less active during this phase. However, this can also be an ideal time to target structure-dwelling species such as sheepshead or snapper, using bait like shrimp or crustaceans.



While the connection between moon phases and saltwater fishing is a topic of debate, many anglers swear by the influence of moon cycles on their catch rates. Understanding the effects of different moon phases can provide valuable insight when planning a saltwater fishing trip. Remember, numerous other factors, including weather conditions, water temperature, and bait availability also contribute to fishing success. It is important to consider these factors in conjunction with moon phases for a comprehensive fishing strategy.

Ultimately, being adaptable, observant, and knowledgeable about the habits of the target species will lead you to a successful saltwater fishing experience, regardless of moon phase.